MicroblogMondays: A Daughter That We Lost

Microblog_Mondays

When we received the PGS results, I deliberately asked Dr. E not to disclose the information on the sex of the embryos.  I would rather wait to be surprised at birth.

This is so unlike me.  Given my personality as somebody who would like to be in control of many things, my desires all my life had been to find out at our 20-week ultrasound if we were going to have a boy or a girl.  This long and difficult fertility journey has changed my mind.  I just want to keep one surprise in this process.  The sex of our baby will have to be it.

Bob really wanted to know.  I told him to ask Dr. E himself but made him promise not to share with me.  I think the task of keeping information from me is just too monumental for him.  He decided not to even go near that subject.

Now that the implanted embryo has failed to grow in our gestational carrier Annie, I suddenly had this strong urge to find out if it was meant to be a boy or a girl.

As the title suggests, Dr. E revealed that it was a female embryo.

A daughter.

That.

We.

Lost.

I honestly do not have a preference for either sex, but growing up, I did always envision having a baby girl.

But now that this daughter is no longer with us, it just feels like there is a huge hole in my heart that cannot be filled.

Out of the last four transfers and my own two chemical pregnancies, we never had a chance to confirm if we had lost a boy or a girl.  This is the first time that we could definitely say that we had a daughter.

Knowing the sex of this embryo may help bring closure.  It may not.  But I am very glad that we found out.

When I shared about this, one of my dearest friends gave me a song.  She translated this song from Hebrew to English for me.  The following are the lyrics:

On [the subject of] the honey, and on the thorns,

On the bitter and the sweet,

On our daughter, my baby, guard her, My Lord, for good.

On the fire that burns, on the water pure and clear,

On the man returning home after a long journey.

On all these things,

Guard me please, my Lord for my good.

For the honey and the thorns,

For the bitter with the sweet.

This is the video:

I was already touched when I read the lyrics.  I teared up when I read the words “Our daughter, my baby, guard her, My Lord, for good”.

But I didn’t know that more was to come.

The next morning, I woke up and found a video that this friend sent to me.  It was a video of her that she recorded that morning for me.  In the video, she told me that she had a gift for me, that it was bitter gift, but it was a gift for her during a very dark time in her life.  She sang this song for two weeks after her nephew passed away, as it brought her comfort.  She personally sang this Hebrew song to me and recorded it in this video.  Her beautiful singing and her love for me brought me to tears.  This is the most thoughtful gift I have ever received in my life.

The very same day, this same friend wrote about our loss in her blog post. The last sentence she wrote: “Goodnight my sweet little girl.  I’m sorry that we didn’t have a chance to meet.”

Cue waterworks.

My dear friend managed to move me to tears three times in two days.

Bob and I decided to no longer call this lost embryo Max.  We wanted to give her a proper name.  After much thinking and searching, we decided to name her Mira, which means “ocean” or “sea”.  Given our love for the ocean and how being in its presence brings us comfort and healing every time we lost a pregnancy or an embryo, it is fitting for us to commemorate our embryo with a name with a meaning near and dear to us.

One of the songs during worship on Sunday was “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” by Hillsong United.  The lyrics really spoke to me:

You call me out upon the waters

The great unknown where feet may fail

And there I find You in the mystery

In oceans deep

My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace

For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters

Your sovereign hand

Will be my guide

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me

You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name

And keep my eyes above the waves

When oceans rise

My soul will rest in Your embrace

For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders

Let me walk upon the waters

Wherever You would call me

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander

And my faith will be made stronger

In the presence of my Savior

It reminds me that even when we are knee-deep in the ocean waves (our pain/suffering/impossible circumstances), the Lord will sustain us in our faith and His sovereign hand will be our guide.  It is not a coincidence that after we gave our daughter this name that means ocean, the  same theme came up in a song that touches me. 

Mira, our daughter.  We will miss you forever.  May our faith be sustained and we keep our eyes above the ocean waves.  May we persevere so that we will see your sibling(s) face-to-face one day.

MicroblogMondays: Self Care

Microblog_Mondays

Last Friday marked the day after we confirmed that our 5th transfer has failed.  The feeling is so familiar yet different.  We are used to failure.  It is a sad thing to say, but we are.  We know how to handle ourselves when it comes to failed transfers.  We know that we will be sad and devastated for a bit and we will be over it.  And we will move forward again.  But then, this time is also so different.  We have given this transfer the best embryo with the best grade and score and the best uterus that we could provide ever.  It was supposed to be a foolproof formula.

But it wasn’t.

I can’t begin to express my gratitude for having Jesus in my heart.  Without Jesus, I don’t know where my hope would lie.  But like one of my readers said, it is okay to be sad.  And I was sad.  At one point, I had fear and doubt in my head and my heart.  December is the end of the 5th year of our journey.  It was highly possible and probable that by the end of the year, we would be expecting a miracle in 2017.  Except that it didn’t happen.  And I was wondering if this is God’s message to me that a child is not in our future.  But I decided to once again not jump to conclusion as God is the only one who knows His plan.  This is the time for me and Bob to exercise our trust and faith in Him, knowing that regardless of the outcome of our quest, He is going to provide for us.

With that understanding, I tried what I could to take care of myself.

Fortunately, Friday was Veteran’s day.  It was a day off for me.  I opened my eyes with peace in my heart.  I am always thankful for the peace and strength that God gives me, as it is not a given and is not something that I take for granted.  In my pajamas, I made south Indian filtered coffee, sat there, and wrote my last blog post without even brushing my teeth or washing my face.  I just needed that quiet, alone space to feel and to let everything sink in.  Order in my life always makes me feel better.  After a couple of hours of chores cleaning the floor, changing the bedsheets, and tidying up any mess, I felt more control about the situation again.  That evening, Bob and I spent time with some of our best friends.  Their kids are our favorite kids.  Just enjoying the time with them brought about tremendous healing.

This is what self care is all about.  Being aware of what makes you happy and doing it.

I just started watching the show “Parenthood” on Netf.lix.  In one of the episodes, the younger brother, a playboy, just discovered that he had a son with an old fling.  He went to seek the advice from his older brother who happened to be a family man with two children.  He asked his older brother about having children,

“What makes all of it worth it?”

His brother said, “What makes it worth it is the connection.  It’s a bond you feel.  They are yours, you know.  You are part of them.”

I so long for this connection, this bond that I will have with my future child.  Regardless of the genetic links or who is going to carry the baby, my child is going to be mine.  He/she is going to be part of me and I am going to be a part of him/her.

It is all going to be worth it.

MicroblogMondays: Sadness is…

deleting all the reminders of PIO injections and replacement of estrogen patches on my Goo.gle calendar

removing Kevin the embryo’s photo from the fridge and putting it in a folder

seeing that Christmas cards of friends’ children have replaced Kevin’s photo in the prime spot of the fridge

running my hands on the areas made tender by the progesterone injections

feeling the subsiding soreness of those once-tender spots

looking in the mirror and seeing the faded “permanently-marked” circles for injections on my back that no longer need any re-marking

seeing the deflated hot water heating pad that has been untouched in the last three days

spotting the box of syringes, sharps container, and meds I kicked under my nightstand

reaching for the pads in the drawer that I thought I would say good-bye to for a while, but now are needed because of AF’s arrival

opening the freezer and seeing the ice pack that I had been using to ice the injection sites

touching the itchy rectangular residue from the estrogen patches that are no longer required for my lower abdominal area

tearing up while cutting open the Am.azon box and touching the panda hooded towel that is going to be my baby shower gift for my super pregnant supervisor

seeing the date knowing that we are approaching the end of our 48th month trying for a baby

closing my eyes at night having Kevin’s picture vividly in my mind

feeling heartbroken waking up at the crack of dawn losing this pregnancy

 

 

… but, it’s okay to be sad.

And I will be okay.

Microblog_Mondays

The Last Three Days – The Healing Begins

Monday December 7, 2015

Beta day.  I didn’t sleep well the night before.  It was the first night I had a hard time falling asleep during the two-week wait.  I got up at 6:15 and was out the door by 7:05.  I wasn’t particularly nervous, strangely.  I prayed for strength, peace, and calmness on the way.  At the lab, the wait wasn’t long.  I was in and out within 15 minutes.  The phlebotomist told me that the results would come back within two hours, and most likely wouldn’t show up online because this particular test is usually labeled “confidential”.  So it sounded like most likely I would have to call to find out.  How was I feeling?  I was half hopeful and half expecting the worst.

After I saw my 9am client (who I saw about ten minutes early so I was done ten minutes early), I checked online and didn’t see any results.  Just then and there, at 9:44, exactly two hours after my blood draw, I received a new message from my OB/GYN.  I opened it and saw this:

Your BHCG just came back and is 10. This is not negative but is very low (could be negative on a home test).  I would talk with your IVF doctor about this value. You will need to get another one drawn in 2 days to see if it has gone up or down.”

My mind drew a blank.  I didn’t expect to see a low number.  I expected either a decent number or a zero.  Somehow, I didn’t prepare myself for a low beta.  I remember telling Bob the other day that I’d rather it be zero than a chemical pregnancy.  He asked me why because to him, it makes no difference.  I don’t know why.  I know that people say that it’s a good thing to know that I can get pregnant, but the possibility of the embryo trying and not being able to sustain life inside me is a big heart break for me.  I suspect that beta was probably a bit higher a few days ago, and started to drop on 12dp5dt already.

I am very thankful for my OB/GYN, someone that I have never met in person.  My previous OB, with whom I also had never met, left the practice so I got assigned to this new OB.  She has been more than helpful and caring.  She ordered my beta for me STAT, returns my emails promptly, and answers any questions that I may have.  She told me already that this week she would be out of the office and told me to call the advice nurse.  I didn’t expect her to write me an email personally so quickly.

When I read the message, I was sitting in my dark office as a parent was observing my colleague’s therapy session from an observation window next to my desk.  I searched for my cell phone, walked next door to my empty therapy room, and gave Bob a call.  He had an intuition that I would call him before 10am so he waited for my phone call.  I told him what happened.  Bless his heart.  My husband was calm and said that, Okay we’ll talk tonight and we will regroup.  We hung up.

I went back to my office initially feeling okay.  I think the shock hadn’t reached my brain and my heart yet.  I sat there and started updating people.  I emailed my nurse and asked if I could stop all the meds as well as when I could see my RE to discuss what happened this cycle.  I have so many questions for him.  Unfortunately, I was instructed to continue all the meds and get a second beta on Wednesday.  My nurse offered me an appointment to see my RE on Wednesday at 9:30.  I had a client scheduled for that time and I also had my presentation for pregnant ladies scheduled for noon.  It was just impossible to take that appointment without moving things around.  So I declined.

After that, I stared at my computer screen for another hour not being able to think.  Sitting alone in my office trying to prepare for my clients for the afternoon, I was on the verge of tears.  I just didn’t know how I could sustain myself through the afternoon.  All I wanted to do was to see my husband and hug him.  So I made a decision to take care of myself.  I asked my front desk staff to cancel all the kids in the afternoon, packed my bags, and left work.

I started tearing up in the elevator.  By the time I got to the garage, tears came down.  I cried and cried when I pulled out of the driveway at work.  When I got home, I sat in the car in my driveway howling aloud.  I needed to cry.  And I did.  I just didn’t think that I could hold it in until night time.

Seeing Bob’s face was the best thing that happened to me on Monday.  I love my husband.  Despite being sad and angry himself, he always has a way of cheering me up during crisis.  Every time tragedy strikes, I realize once again that I married the best life partner one could ask for.  For that I am grateful.   We enjoyed a nice, quiet lunch together.  I was glad that the results came back so early that I could leave and get together with him.  He told me that he was dazed and heartbroken after he got my phone call, but still had to get himself together to drive down to work.  I really felt for him.  His dream of holding his own baby is once again delayed.  I would be angry too.  But he put himself and his feelings aside and took care of my feelings first.  I am very grateful for him.

The rest of the day, I was by myself and was having all sorts of emotions: disbelief, anger, disappointment, devastation, loneliness.  I knew that the best place to be would be in prayers and to be in God’s comfort.  However, I just couldn’t.  On this one day, I could not come to God.  I could not acknowledge Him.  I could not talk to Him.  I could not pray.  I was angry.  Why is our journey so hard?  I have no answers.  Nobody will have an answer for us.  But I still ask.

Bob told me to start thinking about what to do if Lucy doesn’t work out, that we should start looking into another donor.  He and I believe that we’ll be parents some day.  Just not today.  That night, I wrote the new donor coordinator at the clinic (as the former person with whom I dealt left the job already).  I got the answer that 1) our donor still has a batch of frozen eggs available and 2) I could be put back on the waitlist for a donor in which we were interested for a fresh cycle.

I have so many questions for Dr. No Nonsense, my RE.  Why did our cycle turn out like this, with one day 5 early blastocyst and only one day 6 blastocyst left?  Why didn’t the embryos develop well on day three?  Was it because of the sperm?  The eggs being frozen?  Did my donor have this kind of fertilization report and blastocyst rate during her previous fresh and frozen cycles?  Or our pure bad luck?  Are there any other tests necessary to check Bob’s sperm?  Is it my uterus?  Can we do anything differently next time to better prepare my lining?  Is it a good idea to purchase the my donor’s second batch of eggs so that if Lucy works out, we can have some frozen embryos for a chance of full biological siblings?

So many questions.  But no appointment.  At night, I tried to make arrangement to reschedule my Wednesday morning client in case the 9:30am was still open.  My client’s mom was willing to switch, but the time slot with Dr. NN was already gone.   I still don’t have an appointment set up.

Then I got an email, which came at the worst timing ever.  My coworker who organized my boss’ surprise baby shower for Tuesday, December 8th, the day that I planned on taking off, updated in an email saying that since my boss was sick on Monday and would possibly still be sick on Tuesday, the baby shower had been postponed to the following Tuesday, December 15th.

I almost cursed aloud.  That means that I still have to find another excuse not to be around for the baby shower next week.

It is simply not my day, my week, my month, or my year.

I was supposed to go lead my bible study group at night.  I just simply couldn’t.  So I called out sick as well.  Instead of going, I made dinner.  Cooking is such a saving grace when life is simply too much to bear.  Standing there chopping and stirring was the most meaningful thing of the day.

Watching TV with Bob, I cried a few more times.  Knowing that this was a chemical pregnancy, the injection of progesterone was the most meaningless thing ever.  But Bob had the best attitude.  He said, let’s do it and give this embryo a chance.  And we did.

With my eyes closed, I was able to pray for the first time on that day.  Luckily, I fell asleep easily.

 

Tuesday December 8, 2015

However, I did wake up at 2:45am thinking about this pregnancy and failed cycle and couldn’t fall back asleep.  I thank God for my friends who are online into the wee hours (because they are on the East Coast and are up already).  Maddie was there to keep me company.  Then I tried to go back to sleep at 3am.

Taking a day off the day after beta one was the best decision ever, even before I knew I needed it.

After dropping Bob off at the train station at around 7:45, I went back home and lay in bed again.  This overwhelming sadness came upon me.  I wailed and wailed.  I knew I was safe to do that as nobody was around.  It was so heartwrenching to learn that a life was dying inside of me.  And I don’t have a reason for it.  There is no way to know if the embryo was euploid or not.  It was no way to know if it was because of my uterine environment.  There was nothing I could do.  This felt so helpless.  My baby’s life is my baby’s life, and its death signifies something important.  That this is the second time that I couldn’t keep a life alive.  How devastating is this?

I was really in no shape or form to go to work.  The abundance of vacation days is God’s gift for me to take care of myself.

After a bowl of my favorite ramen, I situated myself at my favorite coffee shop.  I ordered my first cup of latte in a long time.  Then I opened up my bible study lesson and prayed.  I was so glad that my bitterness and anger slowly subsided.  I could once again have a dialogue with God.  I thanked Him for being patient with me when I couldn’t pray and couldn’t talk to Him.  I asked for healing and also ability to focus on the passage.  Spending four hours there at the coffee shop helped calm me down and move me back to feeling grounded again.

Throughout the day, I felt so loved as many friends checked on me.  You know who you are.  Thank you ladies for being there for me.

While I was still at the coffee shop, Bob messaged me and asked if I wanted to take a trip during our Christmas break.  We originally weren’t going to plan a trip anywhere because we were anticipating our first ultrasound to be the week of Christmas.  Now that we don’t have such an ultrasound planned, Bob would like me to have something to look forward to.  I looked into a few options.  At first to a place about two hours away.  Bob wanted to go even farther away.  A town next to the ocean on the central coast caught my eyes again.  A friend recommended it, so I called the hotel she stayed at and asked for the rate and availability.  We are all booked and will go away for a few days to spend time with each other next to the ocean.

My behind endured what I anticipated to be the last jab of the progesterone needle for this cycle.  Bob did it with such precision that he would be ready for ten weeks of this come the next cycle.  I was defiant and didn’t change my estrogen patches.  I just hoped and prayed that my number started to go down so we could have closure and move onto the next cycle.

 

Wednesday December 9, 2015

Second beta day.  I woke up finding everything meaningless.  The beta draw was.  The work day was.  The only thing that I looked forward to was to come home and make dinner.  I needed something mindless and productive.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t escape my work duties.

My only prayer for the day was for God to give me strength as I was weak, and to sustain me throughout the day.  He answered my prayer beautifully.

There were significantly more people waiting for their blood draws.  I waited for at least 20 minutes.  I had no questions for the phlebotomist.  When I saw a pregnant woman at the hospital, I just couldn’t stand it.  I felt like I was just going through the motion today.  Arriving at work, I wanted to isolate myself.  I had a really hard time being friendly with my coworkers.  I just wanted them to leave me alone.

After my first client, I started to feel a little better.  The on-call OB/GYN who covered for my own doctor didn’t email me my second beta like what my own doctor did.  I called the number provided for me.  I was expecting an advice nurse but instead I got a health plan representative.  Without much feeling, I asked him to check my lab result.  I doubt he knew what bHCG stood for.  He read me the value.  I thanked him and hung up.

My second beta came back at 6.

I was glad that it went down.  I was afraid of beta hell.  I know that the progesterone might have prolonged the life of the embryo.  My nurse told me that I could stop all the meds, but would like me to get a third beta done until the value goes down to zero.  I do find that an overkill.  She wanted me to get the beta on Friday, but I asked for Monday so the chances of it going down to zero would be higher.  This is the on-call OB’s response to my request:

Usually at a level of 6, we would consider that basically equivalent to negative or zero, but I can understand how others might want to make sure the level goes down further. I have placed another order for a bHCG lab to be done, and I think Monday 12/14 is fine.”

This is the plan.  We stop meds today.  I hope for my period to come soon.  The second day of my cycle, I will start birth control pills again.  Once we have that started, my nurse can work out a calendar for us to have a frozen embryo transfer some time in January or February.

I like it that we have a plan.  However, my nurse is still trying to find a time for me to meet with Dr. NN.  *Sigh*

After getting the second beta result, guess what fun activity I had planned for myself?

My monthly presentation to pregnant women at noon.

My heart was just not there.  As I prepared for it, the words on the page were jumping up and down.  I just didn’t know how I could do it today.  But there was no calling out sick.  No escaping.  That was why my prayer was for God to sustain me.  And He answered my prayer.

There were twelve pregnant women there.  I would say that my presentation today was one of my best ones.  I was clear, precise, funny, and got all of the ladies’ attention.  They answered my questions and participated in the discussion.  It was a success.  It is just amazing how the human mind could block out all of my personal tragedies and focus on what needs to be done in the moment professionally.

After that was accomplished, my day went well.  I was once again being able to focus on the kids in the afternoon.  I felt more normal.

God was really sustaining me.

And then I saw my dear friend Elisha’s post on Fac.ebook:

Sometimes I get tired. Tired of waiting. Tired of praying. Tired of being hopeful. Tired of walking by faith. Tired of being positive and joyful. And sometimes, tired of reminding myself that His plans are better than mine. But it’s in those moments when I’m tired and I just want to give up, I remember this verse…“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” ~Galatians 6:9 And friend, it’s that last part that gives me the push…the drive… the strength…and the hope to keep on keeping on. I pray tonight that it does the same for you.”

Such a wise lady.  It was exactly how I felt. Tired of all these things.  But I too hope that this bible verse also gives me the push, the drive, the strength, and the hope to keep on keeping on.  This message just came right at the exact moment I needed it.

So we move on to the next step.  We close this chapter and let our healing begin.  I have hope for the future again.

MicroblogMondays: Remembering Our Due Date – Year Two

Microblog_Mondays

Right now is Sunday evening, my usual time to think about what to write for my Monday post.  This thought of writing about our due date has been in the back of my mind.  If our brief pregnancy with Clay and/or Eli (the two embryos that we transferred back in February 2014) had worked out, our due date would have been October 29, 2014.  I think about the pregnancy once in a while.  I haven’t been overly sad about it.  Tonight, Bob just asked if I was going to write a blog post.  I said Yes.  He asked about the topic.  I said, I want to write about the due date.  I don’t think he is as mindful about it as I am.  He asked me what it was.  I told him October 29.  About the same time as Turtle’s daughter AJ.   Earlier this evening, we just enjoyed looking at the cute photos of AJ’s first birthday on Fac.ebook.  He said, “Wow, if it had worked out, our baby would be turning one year old.”  Yes that’s right.  Then he went on to say, “Oh maybe our baby would refuse to put on his pajamas, just like T.”  T is our friends’ 9-month-old baby with whom we just visited and played yesterday.  We witnessed how he fought over putting pajamas on after his bath and found that to be the cutest thing.  All of a sudden, this vivid image was formed in my head, of something that would never materialize.  We would never be able to casually chat about this child who existed in my womb for a nano second, about how he/she loves to take a bath, giggles like crazy when we play peekaboo with him/her, or how juicy his/her thighs are.  This child would just be a passing thought, an idea that probably no one would ever remember, except me (and maybe some day Bob).  Even if we are blessed with another child following a successful donor egg cycle, there is still a very tender spot in my heart reserved for this child that we lost and what could have been with him/her.  I went from chatting and laughing with Bob, to suddenly having my eyes full of tears.  I hadn’t cried about the loss of my one and only pregnancy in a very long time.  Tonight feels very fitting to think about this life that was too short.  Tears kept streaming down.  Bob didn’t seem to know what to do.  He was afraid that it was something that he said.  I assured him that it had nothing to do with him.  It was about time I got emotional about it.  A long tight hug did make me feel better.  I haven’t forgotten.  The sadness is still there.  I think I will remember this baby for a really long time.

I look forward to one day when we will have a chance to share with our rainbow baby all about this sibling that we couldn’t bring to this world.

MicroblogMondays: Order and Healing

Microblog_Mondays

In this journey, it’s inevitable that we’ll encounter a time that requires healing to move on.  Unfortunately, this Thanksgiving weekend once again called for such a time.  My emotions recovered rather quickly after the initial blow of a failed fertilization.  We attended my brother’s thanksgiving dinner and socialized with others as if nothing major had happened.  However, when late night came, the heart-wrenching feeling returned.  Despite that, I did not lose any sleep.  I woke up refreshed but immediately was reminded of the fact that we would not be receiving a day-two embryology report.  I had a strong urge to do something mindless and productive.  So this is what I did:

photo 1

photo 2

 

Standing in the sunlight-infused kitchen, I replenished my spice containers and filled spices that were not already labeled in new containers.  I lined them up in my spice cabinet.  Seeing all my spices neatly displayed somehow brought the  much needed order in my life and allowed the first moment of healing to take place.  It may sound strange to find comfort in spice jars but that was exactly how I felt.  I needed order.  I needed control.  And this was what I could control in my life the day after receiving bad news.

Onwards and upwards.

*****

(Food also brings healing.  This is a picture of the three-month belated birthday brunch for my niece’s sweet 16.

photo 3

Huevos Rancheros, duck confit egg benedict, and creole crab cake with eggs.)

Missing Clay and Eli

Today, I miss Clay and Eli, our precious embryos that were lost.  I actually hadn’t thought about them in a while.  When I do think about them, I don’t usually get overly emotional.  I think for a little, then my thought would pass.

But today.  Today was a little different.

A friend of mine had success with her first IVF.  She transferred a blastocyst and a morula.  One of the embryos became her 18-month-old daughter.  The toddler is a beautiful girl and I can’t be happier for my friend.  From the batch of embryos that fertilized in that cycle, there was one that was growing slowly.  It turned into a blastocyst on day six and was frozen.

When my friend wanted to try for number two, she thawed this embryo and transferred it.  Luckily, she became pregnant and is currently about 12 to 13 weeks.  Somehow I am not jealous of this pregnancy probably because I just love this family so much and I love this little girl.  I really didn’t want my friend to have to go through with the anxiety of a fresh cycle and waiting for the embryology report.  It’s a wonderful thing that the embryo implanted.

I always thought that the embryo was a morula on day five and turned into a blastocyst on day six.  I was told by her today that it wasn’t even a morula on day five.  It somehow grew into a 5BB blastocyst on day six.

Today after dinner, I told Bob that this friend’s embryo was just like any other ones that they had.  Not even a morula on day five.  Somehow it miraculously became a blastocyst, attached to the uterus, and is now a baby forming inside my friend.  I commented, “What a fighter this embryo was.”

Bob said, “Just like our Clay.  Clay was a fighter.”

I was in the car while Bob was driving.  Tears started streaming.  It wasn’t because of my friend’s pregnancy that hurt.  Bob’s comment just touched a special spot in my heart.  It was so raw.  It was almost like I could feel the touch on that tender spot in my heart.  Sometimes I wonder if I am cold blooded because I don’t always get emotional when I think about Clay and Eli.  But today, I am again grieving the loss of these embryos.  My babies that tried so hard to hold on… but gone forever.

Bob held my hand and let me cry for a while. He apologized for making me sad.  I assured him that it had nothing to do with what he said or with my friend’s pregnancy.  I just needed a moment to grieve those lives that were lost.  And that was the right moment.

Sometimes we need that moment to just stop what we’re doing and think about the past.  Then we move on again.  I think this is part of healing.

My husband drove me to a restaurant, stopped, and bought me bread pudding.  The sweetness of both his action and the bread pudding more than made up for the sad moment for today.

I do have a wonderful husband.  Having him makes this journey easier.

An Unexpected Trip

Life continues to change unexpectedly.  A week ago, we wouldn’t have guessed that we would be taking a trip to see family in India and Hong Kong mid-April.

About five months ago, I wrote a post celebrating being married for 2.5 years.  I listed all the things that we had experienced as a couple in those short years.  We are now adding one more item to the list: the loss of a job.  

Bob called me at 5pm exactly one week ago informing me of “a bit of a bad news”.  He was let go by his company.  We went through a lot in our relationship to finally decide to take this job.  You can read about it here, here, and here.  From August to October last, I went from being ambivalent about switching from a big corporation to being proud of him that he was willing to take a risk and try something that he liked.  We prayed and sought the Lord’s guidance.  We believed that it was God’s leading that we finally decided to take that job.  We still believe that it was a good move.  In this situation where he was let go, I believe that he was being wronged and treated unfairly.  For that I have been angry at his bosses and have been bitter about it.  But, there is nothing we can do about it but to accept the fact that he no longer has that job.  

Thanks to this biblical financial workshop that we took a couple of years ago, we have saved up funds for emergency such as this.  We also have separate funds for trips (which my husband passionately called our “Babymoon” fund), IVF treatments, and a replacement car.  I still have a job.  We did some math.  My monthly income and his unemployment income should be enough for our monthly expenses if we cut things down a little.  Praise the Lord that financially we can last for a while before he finds another job.  However, it’s not the finances that I am worried about.  I am worried about a man’s psyche… of losing a job, not being able to provide for his family for a little while, and the self-doubt (albeit temporary) that may come with the job loss.

We were in shock for a little… I don’t know what stages of grief we have been going through.  I mean, back in January, we were in shock that his bosses used this smallest misunderstanding and blew it up big time.  They gave him an “official warning” with an HR person in presence without even talking to him about what happened or hearing his side of the story in private first.  He was told one thing by one boss but another thing by another boss.  The two bosses’ stories didn’t match and he got blamed for it.  At that time, we were saying that if this company was not the right one for us, and if he was let go, then we would take a trip to India and Hong Kong.  We have wanted to go but there never seemed to be time in Bob’s work schedule.  Every time he switched jobs, he was talked into taking the new job right away.  It has been two years since we went.  But I really did not think that these people would actually let him go because of something so small.  At the end of last month, he was told by his boss that everything was fine.  The lesson is, not to easily trust when someone like his boss said that everything was fine.  My husband worked so hard at his job and loved it.  It was the people that made it a difficult work situation.  My heart hurts for him that he lost his job under these circumstances.

For now, Bob is taking a break.  He has been home.  He promised me that he would change out of his pajamas daily and he has been doing that.  He has been taking care of some maintenance in the house.  My brother asked him for his resume and has forwarded it to the appropriate department at his company.  There were companies that he had turned down second interviews previously.  So there are leads that he can follow.  But I think it IS a good time for him to take a break.  He went to the library that he never had the time to go to and really enjoyed his time there.  When we did the budget, we discussed about whether or not to continue to pay for our fitness bootcamp.  I strongly believe that working out is going to keep him sane and fit when he’s unemployed.  So we wrote our bootcamp instructor, told her this situation, and asked if we could get a discount until he gets a new job.  She said she’d work something out for us.  So Bob still goes to early morning 6:15am bootcamp with me.

We also got into a huge fight over the weekend.  I can’t even remember the last time we got into a huge fight.  I guess losing a job can do that to you.  Let’s just say that our ears are highly sensitive because we are highly sensitive these days.  We totally misinterpreted the intentions of what we said.  Instead of walking away and letting go immediately, like what we would usually do, we chose to fight.  It was ugly.  And we made up quickly, like usual.  But in the moment, I realized that I have to allow Bob time to heal and mourn this situation and not to underestimate the impact of this news, despite us being financially secure at this point.  In my morning prayers, I asked the Lord to give me extra patience and love for my husband during this time.

We originally were going to plan for a trip for Hawaii as we had always wanted to go to Hawaii for our honeymoon.  After we got married, I was too tired to plan for a trip like that so we never went.  But after a lot of thinking, I feel that visiting with family is more important than us lounging around on a beach by ourselves.  And I want to do the international trip when I am still taking a thinking break from the next IVF cycle.  In the big scheme of things, it will be okay to wait for another month or two before we embark on the IVF journey again.  Bob asked me if I wanted to do a cycle before we leave for the trip.  I gave him an “Are you crazy look?”  We are not doing a cycle before we fly out.

So how about we talk about what to expect in India?  Well, we can’t talk about our expectations without talking about my father- and mother-in-law.  Before we booked the plane tickets, I insisted on Bob calling his parents to tell them our plans.  His mother was very upset that he lost his job and that it was the result of him “abandoning” his big corporation job.  He heard no consolation from her.  The next phone call, she complained that he did not buy her a house like she wanted, as she compared herself to her friends whose children bought them properties.  And now that he lost his job, she has to wait longer for the money that we give them annually.  I get so mad at her sometimes for not even asking how he is doing.  All she usually says is to blame him for things.  She also complained that I was yet again going to be there in India the whole duration of his stay.  She was envisioning me leaving early so that she and my father-in-law would get some alone time with Bob.  Well, MIL, it is not happening this time.  I am going to be sticking with Bob the whole time.

We were in India a bit over two years ago.  We just started trying for a baby.  Because his mother and his father did not accept our marriage, they told their neighbors that I was his “project manager” rather than his wife.  We found that ridiculous and joked that yes, I was his project manager but it was for “Project Baby”.  Little did we know that after over two years and a lot of effort, the project is still in the development phase.  We joke that I am failing as a project manager for “Project Baby”.  Although it’s a joke, sometimes I do feel like a failure… 

Hong Kong will be a much more pleasant place to be in terms of friends and family that we will see.  I haven’t seen my dad for 18 months.  I can’t wait to hang out with him.  Both of my grandmothers are in their 90s and are alive and well.  I am thrilled to be able to spend time with them.  My paternal grandmother, with whom I grew up, last time joked that Bob would not be allowed to return to Hong Kong without a baby.  Poor woman, I think she stopped joking about that.  Instead she wishes us for all of our dreams to come true during Chinese New Year.  I will also see my childhood best friend and maybe tell her all the details about the cycles that we went through.

As for our TTC effort this month, I ovulated but I didn’t know exactly when because the temperature shift was kind of weird.  We timed it every other day so it was quite well timed.  This is our last chance to reach the goal of having a baby in our arms by Christmas this year.  Hoping and praying that I will receive the biggest surprise of my life.  I went to acupuncture a couple of times and Maya abdominal massage once.  But, I haven’t written Dr. E after she checked in with me a week after our pregnancy loss.  I have not taken any prenatal vitamins since AF came.  I have stopped DHEA and the other supplements.  I guess, I just need a break.

So here you are.  The update of my life.  We are going on an unexpected trip to recuperate and rekindle our relationship with our family and friends, and on an unexpected trip of navigating the world of unemployment.  Although we are bitter at times, we are still grateful for all the blessings that have been poured upon us.  Life is still not too bad.

Being Loved and Cared For

I feel so loved.

A fellow leader from my bible study group learned of my loss during the retreat.  We were not close but the retreat brought us closer together.  When I saw her at the meeting last Saturday, she told me to go out with her to her car on my way out.  She handed me a paper bag.  I looked inside.  There was a card and this:

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I was so touched.  The orchids has definitely brightened my life as well as my garden window in the kitchen.

And then this came in the mail yesterday:

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I was so so so so so shocked and very very very surprised.  In that big box, there were six tubs of Schulzies bread pudding of three different flavors.  It came totally out of the blue.  Schulzies is a bread pudding shop in San Francisco with 108 flavors.  When you go to the shop itself, it’s like buying ice cream.  You order a scoop, then you get it in a cup.  

I looked at the note that was attached.  It was from two very special ladies.  One of them was my friend who lost her baby at 16 weeks.  I mentioned about her in my last post.  The other one was our other friend who struggled to get pregnant for three years and finally gave birth to her second child.  I met them on the Taking Charge of Your Fertility website (TCOFY) a few years ago.  We all became good friends.  The note said:

“We wanted you to feel the love even from a distance.  Thinking of you and sending warm healing hugs, R & A”

I almost cried.  They are so thoughtful.  They knew that my favorite dessert is bread pudding and they found a local store to buy me a lot to cheer me up.  I was stunned and speechless.  I am still stunned at the thoughtfulness and generosity of these ladies.  Thank you R and A.  You ladies sure know how to take good care of me.  Deepest gratitude from my heart.

And finally, I also loved and cared for myself.  I needed new bras.  But my boobs became so much bigger during the last IVF cycle due to the side effect of the progesterone suppositories.  I was also waiting to see if I was pregnant… If I was, then I would  need different bras.  Well, turned out the pregnancy didn’t last.  So instead of waiting, I bought myself some new bras that came yesterday.  I was going to take some photos and show them.  Well, everyone knows what a bra looks like.  I decided against it.  But I just really want to take good care of myself as well.  The bras and the bread pudding arrived at the same time. 🙂  

Taking good care of my self and being cared for by others feel so good.

 

Divine Appointments, and I Am Doing Well

God has the perfect timing.  The retreat in San Diego was such a blessing.  The things that I learned, the friends that I got to know better, and the random strangers that i encountered were all a blessing to me.  This retreat couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.  All the encounters with different people were divine appointments.

I was doing fine on Friday.  When I arrived at the airport, I was still not in the mood to talk about myself.  The whole world was a still little grim to me.  But the Lord was good.  I saw my friends there at the airport and shared with one of them about what had happened the day before.  I was surprised that I could speak about it without tearing up or crying.  Big step forward.  I was quite late to get on the plane so there weren’t too many seats left.  My three friends who got on way ahead of me pointed me to a middle seat across from them.  I squeezed in and wasn’t planning on talking to anybody.  The woman next to me asked me how to change her phone to the airplane mode.  I still didn’t want to talk to her much.  But once I saw what she was reading, I knew that she was going to the same retreat I was heading to.  So I started striking up a conversation with her.  We ended up chatting the whole hour and a half nonstop.  Because we talked so much about my husband and her family, she asked if we were planning on having children.  I somehow felt very connected to her and shared our sad news with her.  That brought tears to her eyes.  Then I found out that her oldest boy’s name is the same name that I will give to my boy in the future!  I was very surprised by it because it’s not a common name.  I bumped into her many times during the retreat as well as on the flight back to SFO.  We talked about making plans to get together in the future since she lives about 15 minutes away from me.  Praise God that my sad news didn’t put me in a cocoon and didn’t stop me from connecting with people.

Throughout the whole retreat, I met many people, heard many stories, went to many lectures, and learned many things.  These experiences helped me put things in perspective that there are things that are so much bigger than me and my world.  It somehow really helped me to begin the healing process of my loss.  This was a retreat for about 3000 leaders for this bible study program in three states.  Nineteen leaders of my group attended.  We didn’t necessarily all stick together all the time. But I did bump into many of them in these three days.  Whenever I saw one of the leaders from my group, I was often asked how I was doing.  And I often shared about the pregnancy and the loss.  I didn’t know that one of the ladies who is in her 60’s also went through infertility in her 30’s.  She is currently widowed but is engaged to a wonderful man and is set to marry him in the summer.  But she teared up when she heard my news and was sharing about the devastation at that time when she couldn’t get pregnant or keep a pregnancy and her late husband did not want to pursue adoption.  It was a painful period of time for her but she finally had it resolved.  She does not have any children. The power of the experience was great though as she was still emotional talking about it almost 30 years later.

Because I was very open about my loss, I talked about it over twenty times during these three days.  The more I talked about it, the more at peace I felt.  I was grateful that the Lord gave me this time to share and to help me mourn, grieve, and heal.

I was very surprised to bump into a friend of mine at the retreat.  I didn’t know that she had also become a leader for this bible study program and she was also attending this retreat.  I was so shocked when I saw her.  I walked up to her and gave her a big hug.  This was a couple of minutes before the morning lecture began.  She asked me how I was doing.  I told her right then and there about the pregnancy and the loss, and also that it was after our fourth IVF.  Her first reaction was, I am so sorry about your loss.  A little background about this friend: she got married at 38, got pregnant at 40, and gave birth at 41.  She had a loss before her take home baby.  Then she told me that she had two more losses after the birth of her daughter. The last one was just in November at 9 weeks.  She then told me to think twice before I begin another IVF cycle and to pray about it because she got pregnant on her own and they were all natural conceptions.  Unfortunately the lecture was about to start and I couldn’t “defend” myself and my decisions.  I texted her later and asked if we could have lunch together.

I was frankly a bit bugged by her first reaction and her advice of what I should do or shouldn’t do in the future.  Thank God that there was a whole lecture of 2.5 hours for me to calm down and to think from her perspective.  I think people are just very quick to use their own experiences to give advice without having prior knowledge of what the other person has gone through.  After praying about it and thinking more about it, I was not bugged anymore.  Instead, I thought that she just needed a bit of education of my condition and our decision making process.  At lunch, we sat down and had a great chat.  We caught up on our lives and I told her clearly how we came to the conclusion of IVF (after a lot of prayers, seeking guidance from our pastor, and having peace in our hearts), how it had been difficult to conceive by ourselves, and how difficult the whole IVF process was.  I am glad that I cleared up any myths in her head and the confusion that she must have had about this process.  One thing that I stressed was that us taking the IVF path does not mean that we’re not depending on God.  I don’t have any less faith than she does who tries naturally only.  I am so glad that God gave me the courage to explain my standpoint to her without being defensive.  It was done out of love.  This friend and I hung out a few more times during this retreat.  I am so thankful that the Lord put us together at an unexpected place during an unexpected time.

The last divine appointment was on the way back to SFO.  I again was getting on the plane late so I had to go all the way to the back of the plane for a seat.  The girl in front of me took the seat that i wanted so I went even farther back and scored myself an aisle seat next to two ladies.  I recognized them. They were both bible study leaders that are from a class at a location 15 minutes away from my location.  I hadn’t really met them but I had seen them around at the retreat.  I sat down, said hi to them, and minded my own business.  The whole time they were chatting about various things about church, about bible study, about home, and about their kids.  I did my best to tune them out and just went on to read my own book.  When the plane was almost going to land, the lady next to me asked what book I was reading.  I showed her the title, she looked at it, and quickly pointed at her friend right next to her.  She said, You should’ve talked to her.  The book that I was reading was called “Moments for Couples who Long for Children”.  If you have never read this book, I highly recommend it.  It has helped me through many difficult moments.  Anyhow, from what I gathered, the lady who sat at the window seat tried to get pregnant for 18 years.  She went through four IVFs and numerous surgeries.  She finally adopted a baby girl at 10 months and now the little girl is three years old.  I shared my journey with her in the limited time that we had and how we experienced our first pregnancy and first loss.  This news brought tears to her eyes.  She asked for my name one more time, looked me in the eyes, and said, “I will definitely keep you in my prayers”.  That was such a sincere response and such a sweet moment, from one fellow sister in Christ to another, who understands exactly what the other one is going through.

I am doing well in general.  I get sad once in a while.  I pray and I have peace.  Bleeding started on Sunday, so at least my body is doing what it’s supposed to do instead of making me wait.  After crying my eyes out on Thursday, I didn’t cry until last night when the thought of the possibility of never having our own biological children sent me to a place of sorrow and I had to cry it all out.  That was good for my soul.  My husband is absolutely the best.  Each crisis we face together is a confirmation of the absolute best decision to marry him.  The Lord has brought us closer together because of our journey together.  That is my silver lining.  I think we’re going to take a break from thinking about IVF.  We just want to have a chance to grieve, mourn, and heal from this loss at this moment.